Statement of the Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev - May 12, 1999

On May 12, 1999, it will be five years of achieving an agreement on the establishment of the cease-fire regime on the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict.

The participants of the armed conflict with active assistance of intermediaries have reached the consent to continue a regime of cease-fire till a comprehensive settlement was achieved. It has been possible to achieve it as a result of very great efforts on stabilization of conditions in the republic and creation of regular army of Azerbaijan. Within the five years, it was possible to create and strengthen armed forces of the country. Our armed forces have turned from isolated groups and the armed units having no general command in many cases into the army well organized and equipped with modern techniques, capable to repulse an aggressor. Due to all this, we could stop aggression, end the bloodshed, put an end to destructions, human losses and disasters.

The way of development passed by the Azerbaijan Republic for the last five years, is a bright evidence that the accepted decision was very timely and correct.

As a result of an establishment of the cease-fire regime, we could have an opportunity to strengthen the statehood, carry out democratic reforms, privatization, transition to market economy, and generate the state structures providing independence and the sovereignty of the Azerbaijan Republic. In the armistice conditions the destroyed economy began to recover. The foreign investments so necessary for success of economic reforms were put into the country. Azerbaijan became an attractive country for the largest foreign companies of the world and wide business circles.

As a result of the achieved stability, mutual strategic and partnership relations of Azerbaijan with a number of the leading countries of the world have been established and successfully develop. Signing of oil contracts and other contracts and realization of the international projects on the formation of a corridor Europe - Caucasus-Asia have provided workplaces for thousands of citizens of Azerbaijan.

Alongside with it, Azerbaijan manifested to all the world that it carried out a peace-loving policy directed on the peace solution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, on mutually advantageous co-operation with all countries of the region.

All this, which was said above, is only a summary of those achievements. And all this would not be possible if the cease-fire was not achieved five years ago.

However, the armistice is not yet the peace. A situation "neither war, nor the peace" cannot satisfy us in any way in the condition, when more than 20 percent of territory of Azerbaijan is under occupation and about one million of our compatriots remain in the circumstance of refugees and displaced persons. Therefore, we will henceforth do our best in order to reach peace settlement of the conflict, liberate the occupied territories and return our fellow-countrymen to their native lands by negotiations.

In the course of intensive negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group and owing to our active position at all international forums where Azerbaijan took part, it was possible to reach the main goal: - the world community as a result of our incessant efforts today knows the truth about the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict - that Azerbaijan is a victim of the armed aggression. Information blockade in which Azerbaijan was in the beginning of the conflict with Armenia, was broken through, and Armenia does not possess monopoly over the international news media any more, which elucidated a course of the conflict and efforts on its settlement.

As a result of the big efforts, at the Budapest summit of 1994 the decision was adopted that OSCE would be ready to begin a multinational operation on keeping the peace in the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict zone when agreement was achieved.

At the Lisbon summit of OSCE in 1996 due to our efforts and support of 53 member-states of OSCE, three principles which created the international legal base for fair settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict were determined. These principles also were supported by the member-countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference. All this means that already 108 states of the world fully support the decisions of the Lisbon summit of OSCE, which suggest settling the conflict on the following basis:

- Territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic and Republic Armenia;

- Granting a high degree of self-management to Mountainous Garabagh within the Azerbaijan Republic;

- Ensuring safety for all population of Mountainous Garabagh

Unfortunately, the non-constructive position of Armenia and the forces interested in continuation of the conflict did not yet make it possible to achieve its settlement. However we are sure that despite all obstacles, the peace will be achieved, peoples of region of Southern Caucasus will have an opportunity to develop in conditions of stability and safety.

Today, as the President of Azerbaijan, I declare that the Azerbaijan Republic will henceforth strictly observe a regime of cease-fire till the achievement of universal settlement to the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict.